Any casual student of history will be familiar with the two primary antagonists of the War for Southern Independence: the Confederate States of America and the United States of America rump state. There was one additional participant, however, of which few are aware: Callaway County, Missouri. On October 27, 1861, Federal officers representing the United States of America and Colonel Jefferson F. Jones, representing Callaway Country, conducted a treaty – as equals – in which each party agreed not to invade the other. The county’s treatment, essentially as a sovereign state, resulted in it being known henceforth by locals as “The Kingdom of Callaway.”
Missouri, being a border state, was in a politically confused/charged situation for most of 1861, as both Confederate and Unionist forces attempted to exert as much influence as possible, hoping to gain, or retain, the state for their respective side. The state’s individual counties experienced the same issue, albeit on a smaller scale, as forces moved quickly to secure territory – especially valuable rail lines and junctures – before the opposing side was able to do so. And while contributing an overwhelming majority of her sons to the Confederacy (roughly 1,100 to the 350 who fought in Unionist units), Callaway County attempted to do something that was seemingly impossible during that initial period of the war: maintain neutrality and a semblance of independence from either government.[i]
The desire for political neutrality was especially challenging for Callaway County, as it was the anchor of the seven or so (depending on the author) counties that comprise Missouri’s “Little Dixie” region, and was thus always suspect in the eyes of Unionists for its Southern culture and ties of kinship to the Confederacy. It was this characterization of the county as anti-Union (of the 2,632 votes cast in the 1860 election, Lincoln received only 15) that prompted Federal forces to move on Callaway County, setting in motion the events that would lead to the famous treaty.[ii]
In early October 1861, General John B. Henderson, in command of Union state militia forces in north-eastern Missouri, marched his force of roughly six hundred from Pike County south-westward towards Callaway County’s border in an effort to “invade the county and bring its citizens under subjugation to the Union.”[iii] When news of the Federal troop movements reached Fulton, the county seat, former state representative Jefferson Jones was quickly commissioned as a colonel and promulgated a call-to-arms, resulting in several hundred men, many too old or too young to serve in the active forces of either the Confederacy or the Union, mustering to counter the threat.
The newly-formed Callawegian “army” began training and preparing to repel the Unionist invasion. Having hastily come from farms and villages, with few having any formal military experience except for a handful of Mexican War veterans, the men were without tents and proper accoutrements, and were forced to sleep rough. Food was provided by the muzzle, as they subsisted on what could be hunted in the nearby forests.[iv]
While there were no issued uniforms and a complete lack of consistency in terms of armament, the men having brought what arms and ammunition they had available, primarily shotguns and small-caliber hunting rifles, they did strive to make a martial appearance. Captain Tyre Harrison Jameson drilled the men in the basics of maneuvering and ordered firing. The Callawegians also assembled a number of “Quaker guns” (logs painted black and mounted on wheels to appear as artillery pieces) to bolster their perceived firepower.[v]
On October 27th, Colonel Jones sent messengers under a flag of truce to General Henderson’s camp in Wellsville, right outside the county’s border. Jones conveyed his purpose
to suffer no invasion of our county or its occupancy by federal troops; that in passing through, when occasion required, they should molest none of our citizens, and pay full value for all they received, and that henceforth every guarantee to person or property under the constitution and under the law should be religiously kept and observed toward all inhabitants of said county. I told him if these terms were accepted, and he would pledge the faith of the government to their observance, I would disperse my forces, go home and remain quiet; otherwise[,] the strength of our forces would decide the issue and the consequences would rest with him.[vi]
Henderson, believing the Callawegians to have a force of “well trained and armed” men, agreed to the terms, and a treaty was signed with Henderson representing the government of the United States of America and Jones representing the Callawegian authorities.[vii]
Thankfully, for the people of Callaway, the treaty generally held. There was, however, a battle the following year on Callawegian soil (Moore’s Mill) that pitted Missourian against Missourian, resulting from Unionist forces attempting to halt further recruitment into Confederate service, especially the partisan ranger forces that operated behind Union lines. As word spread that Unionist forces were moving against him, Confederate Colonel Joseph Porter, commander of the 1st Northeast Missouri Cavalry, positioned his men to attack Unionist troops under Colonel Odon Guitar. The fighting, which lasted roughly four hours, resulted in a Union victory, as many of the Confederate soldiers were relatively new recruits who had yet to see action.[viii] The battle, though somewhat costly to the Union, with thirteen killed and fifty-five wounded out of roughly seven hundred engaged, essentially eliminated further Confederate recruitment in north and central Missouri and ensured Unionist domination of most of the state for the remainder of the conflict.
In the aftermath of the battle, Unionist forces, while maintaining a sporadic troop presence in the county, generally complied with the treaty signed in 1861. When forces were present, they “have thus far shown themselves to be a quiet, orderly set of men. We have not heard a single complaint against them.”[ix] Part of this may be due to the county, despite its Confederate sympathies, working to prevent partisan ranger and guerilla units from basing themselves within its borders.
Having been spared the fate of many sister counties, which saw a great deal of fighting, especially the bloody guerilla and partisan warfare that characterized Missouri’s intrastate fighting, Callaway’s post-war recovery was smoother than the state as a whole. While lingering resentments obviously burned for many years afterwards, with the James-Younger Gang and other such outfits wreaking havoc throughout the state, Callaway was spared the worst of these activities. A writer characterized the county in 1867 as being in a “pleasant and healthy situation.”[x]
Given the fighting between the great armies raised by both the Confederate and United States, there are few counties that had the gumption to seek their own way during this period. Missourians, and Callawegians in particular, are a fiercely independent people, agrarian in nature and passionately religious in temperament, who were clearly willing to maintain their independence and way of life by force of arms, if necessary. For a political entity boasting of just over seventeen thousand people, to openly challenge the might of the Federal government was no small feat; however, to gain much, one must risk much. There is a saying among many county residents that captures the Callawegians’ independent streak, be it during the War for Southern Independence or today: “Missouri has 113 counties, but only one kingdom!”
In today’s political climate, where freedoms and liberties, heard-earned by the iron warriors who went before us, are increasingly threatened by leftist extremism, one has to wonder if we will see a rise in local “nationalism” such as that exhibited by the Callawegians of 1861? Hopefully, the answer will be an emphatic “yes!” As “normal people” – defined as those who do not subscribe to the ideals permeated by the high priests of cultural Marxism – find that not only are their political freedoms at stake, but their physical safety is in danger, whether it be through a lack of law enforcement, open borders allowing in the very worst the third world has to offer, or through an unabashedly open sexual agenda targeting younger and younger children. It is my hope that “normal” people see the threat coming for them and do as my Callawegian ancestors did – stand up and say “NO” – your agenda is not welcome here, and we will resist through any means at our disposal. It is only through such efforts that what is left of the Southern tradition will survive in a country (and world) that has turned on any who do not subscribe to the Left’s new religion of hate and degeneracy.
[i] Ovid Bell, Short History of Callaway County (Fulton, MO: The Fulton Gazette, 1913), 27.
[ii] Ovid Bell, Political Conditions in Callaway Before the Civil War Began (Fulton, MO: Ovid Bell Press, 1952), 5.
[iii] Bell, Short History of Callaway County, 28.
[iv] Carolyn Paul Branch, Fulton, Missouri 1820-1920 (Fulton, MO: Longbranch Press, 2010), 89.
[v] “Callaway County becomes the ‘Kingdom,’” TheCallawegian.Org, accessed August 30, 2023, http://www.callawegian.org.
[vi] Branch, Fulton, 90.
[viii] Rudi Keller, “150 YEARS AGO: Battle of Moore’s Mill pits neighbor against neighbor,” Columbia Daily Tribune, July 28, 2012, https://eu.columbiatribune.com/story/news/2012/07/28/150-years-ago-battle-moore/21618630007/
[ix] Branch, Fulton, 101.
[x] Branch, Fulton, 117.